Part 4-Yeshiva Torah Vodaath at 100: Talmidim of the Mesivta Speak

Mr. Elimelech Schorr was a talmid of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath from preschool through beis medrash. His family has been connected to the yeshivah for many generations. His great-grandfather, Reb Avraham Schorr, z”l, was an early supporter of the yeshivah, and of course his great-uncle, Harav Gedalia Schorr, zt”l, was Rosh Yeshivah for decades. He is a talmid chacham who learned for many years in kollel, and is currently living in Lakewood, where he is CEO of Premier Management LLC, a prominent real estate firm in Mercer County, N.J.

Why did your parents choose to send you to Yeshiva Torah Vodaath?

When my parents had to choose a yeshivah for us, they had a choice of three yeshivos which were near our home. After doing their due diligence, they were extremely happy with the pleasant mix of the parent body in the yeshivah. They felt that this would be healthy for our development not only spiritually, but socially as well.

In addition, my family has a long history with Torah Vodaath. When my great-grandfather Reb Avraham Schorr, z”l, moved from the Lower East Side to Williamsburg in the 1920s, his sons began attending Torah Vodaath. Besides for my father’s uncle Harav Gedalia Schorr, zt”l, his other uncles, including Harav Yaakov Schorr, zt”l, and Reb Dovid Schorr, z”l, learned in the yeshivah. My elte-zeide also served at times as baal koreh, and he was an early supporter of the yeshivah. In fact, when he was niftar, he was buried right beside Harav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, zt”l, until Rav Shraga Feivel was moved to Eretz Yisrael a short while later.

Which Rebbi, Menahel or Rosh Yeshivah did you associate with while in the yeshivah? After leaving the yeshivah?

I loved all my Rebbeim throughout the years I spent in the yeshivah. In elementary school, I felt energized by Rabbi Trenk, who boosted our excitement for learning. Rabbi Litmanowitz, who was my seventh-grade Rebbi, was a remnant of the alter dor, an example of ahn alter Litvishe Yid. Rabbi Lezer, my eighth-grade Rebbi, opened our eyes to the beauty of Yiddishkeit and infused us with a cheishek for learning.

As I grew older, I had a close relationship with Harav Yitzchok Kaplinsky, and Harav Meir Weinberg. I was greatly influenced by Harav Chaim Yisroel Belsky, zt”l, who left a powerful and indelible impression on us. He demanded a lot from us. For example, he told us that the reason he knows so much is not because he is so smart, but because he learned these gemaros so many times, and we can do it too. It may have been his anivus, but it made us all try a bit harder.

Finally, Harav Reuven Fain, zt”l, exposed us to a level of lomdus which was on an entirely different plane. Unfortunately, he was niftar while I was learning in Eretz Yisrael, and I wasn’t zocheh to keep up my relationship with him.

Do you keep up with your classmates and friends from YTV?

I have quite a few friends from yeshivah whom have I kept up with, and we speak quite often. These days, we talk about shidduchim for our children, and we share divrei Torah all the time.

Who was your role model?

There were many older bachurim and yungeleit who made an impact on me. I still recall seeing Harav Yisroel Reisman, learning bright and early in the morning with Harav Shachne Weinberger, who is today a prominent Rav and Rosh Yeshivah in Passaic, N.J. Rav Reisman also taught us Hilchos Shabbos.

Harav Yaakov Aharon Prosky, who is today a Maggid Shiur in the beis medrash, was like an older brother to me. I looked up to him both in yeshivah and in Camp Ohr Shraga.

Harav Yaakov Zev Smith was always learning, which inspired me as well. Harav Heshy Wolf, who was one of the older bachurim, was completely mevatel himself to his Rebbeim, which taught us a living lesson. And who could forget the booming kol Torah of the chaburah of Rav Reuven Fein’s talmidim. The ris’cha d’Oraisa inspired us all to grow in our own learning.

What special character trait did you gain from Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, which you feel is unique to the Yeshiva Torah Vodaath talmid?

Harav Avraham Pam, zt”l, gave a shmuess to the entire beis medrash once a month, either on the Thursday before Shabbos Mevorchim or around then. At the time, I did not realize how his holy words and advice penetrated our bones. But later in life, I saw how so many of my hanhagos were a product of what he spoke about.

My friend Mr. Yosef Landa recently reminded me of a shmuess where Rav Pam spoke about settling disputes in beis din and not going to arka’os (secular courts). Certainly, he knew that we were not involved in court cases, but his intent was to prepare us for the future. As I experienced different situations, I can still hear his voice speaking and guiding my reactions and responses.

What is your fondest memory of your Yeshiva Torah Vodaath experience?

The yeshivah was such a pleasant place to learn, without any pressure to conform to any specific mold. Everyone had his own personality, and I guess that is part of the unique mix that my parents wanted for me when they chose Yeshiva Torah Vodaath.

I have a vivid memory of a humorous story which took place one Purim. An older bachur sang a niggun at Rav Fein’s house, where he used the tune of Od Yishamah Be’arei Yehudah, but he substituted the words “od yeishvu zekeinim uzekeinos berechovos Yerushalayim.” Rav Fein appreciated the humor and laughed along.

What would you like to see in the future for Yeshiva Torah Vodaath?

Although I now live in Lakewood and I am not particularly involved in the yeshivah, nevertheless I have tremendous hakaras hatov to Torah Vodaath, all my Rebbeim and chaverim. My wish is for the yeshivah to continue spreading Torah in its unique manner for many doros to come.